Pommes rissoléesPommes rissolées

I won’t make any excuses about the utter lack of posts on Eat except that: I’m in culinary school three nights a week for the next nine months, on top of my 45-hour work week, and this blog may or may not survive this period.

In the meantime, I’d like to share one of my favorite simple dishes that we’ve learned in class so far, a French classic: pommes rissolées. I made these for lunch today in a fit of tournage practice, and also because I had several potatoes languishing on the counter.


“Simple” may not be the best way to describe this method. You’re basically spending an hour and a half to make fancy home fries. But if you’re into the knife work aspect, I’d recommend these potatoes as a side to any roasted meat. They cook up with a crispy skin and a meltingly soft interior. They’re the french fry of your dreams. (As you can see, my turning needs work, but I’m getting there.)

To make four servings, take four good-size Idaho potatoes, and peel them. Depending on the size of the spud, you can get either four or six five-centimeter pieces from each potato. Save the ludicrous amount of trimmings for puréed potatoes, or discard them since potatoes are cheap. Make sure you keep everything—peeled potatoes, trimmings, and finished pieces—submerged in water.

Once the turned pieces are ready, place them in a saucepan, cover them with fresh cold water (unsalted), and bring them to a boil. Simmer until they are mostly done but not too soft. Drain and air dry the potatoes. (If you’re serving these at a dinner, you can stop and store the potatoes in the fridge at this point for as long as you need to, probably up to a couple days.) In the meantime, heat your oven to 375ºF. Once the potatoes are dry (they should feel tacky), brown them in a skillet with a high-smoke-point oil such as canola. You’ll need high heat and several minutes to make sure they pieces are browned on all sides. Roll them around frequently so they don’t burn.

When the potatoes are browned, add a knob of butter, toss it around to coat everything, and place the pan in the oven to roast. Check them after about five minutes. They should be crispy and glistening. Test one for doneness. If they’re very soft inside and crispy outside, drain them and add a heavy pinch of salt immediately while they’re still moist. Sprinkle on some black pepper if you like it, and serve hot.


I probably wrote about this already but this was my very first job in my apprenticeship at the Watergate Hotel, and what a source of hilarity my efforts were to the Asian girls who carved up 5-gallon buckets of these things seemingly effortlessly. I was on the “vegetable station” with Kim, a Korean woman, for about 6 months, and I never really got as good at turned potatoes as I should have. Even on my very last day she would make that little clicking noise with her tongue when she saw my work. Very dispiriting.

These look delicious, though. The waste of potato used to bother me, too, and when I complained about it at home my grandmother, already getting quite dotty, exclaimed, “They could sell their garbage!”

I am a great fan of potatoes ~ will definitely give this technique a try. They look marvelous.

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